Philly wins $1 million for social entrepreneurship idea

The city of Philadelphia won $1 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies to help the city better partner with entrepreneurs to solve social problems.

Philadelphia was one of five cities announced Wednesday as winners of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors challenge, a sort of civic throw down aimed at encouraging cities to find innovative solutions to urban problems.

You can watch Philadelphia’s presentation, featuring an animated Mayor Nutter, on its winning project here.

The city will be announcing "challenges," basically a call for ideas, and then decide which ones to pursue, said Philadelphia Commerce Director Alan Greenberger.

In a conference call with other winners, Mayor Nutter and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose philanthropy funds the contest, said Philadelphia’s proposal would help the city harness good ideas generated by “social entrepreneurs” whose businesses focus on solutions that solve city problems.

As an example of such a business, Nutter pointed to RecycleBank, which allows consumers to redeem points based on how much they trash they recycle that they can use to shop at area businesses.

For this program, Philadelphia will partner with the Wharton School and GoodCompany Group to create the Philadelphia Social  Entrepreneurship Partnership. The partnership aims to reverse the city procurement process. Instead of the city identifying a problem that needs fixing and then putting out a Request For Proposal so that companies can bid on the business, entrepreneurs will identify a problem, offer solutions and take their ideas to the city. In theory, this could reduce bureaucratic hurdles to doing business with the city.

“Once ready, companies will launch and pilot their programs,” Nutter said.

Providence won the largest prize, $5 million, for a project that aims to increase the verbal skills of children in low-income problem. The other winners were Chicago, Houston and Santa Monica.




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